5 Underrated Pittsburgh Penguin Players

Joe Heidkamp@@Joe_HeidkampContributor IMarch 16, 2012

5 Underrated Pittsburgh Penguin Players

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    It's no secret that when they're healthy the Pittsburgh Penguins are a stacked team. 

    Not only do they have the world's best player in Sidney Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer in Evgeni Malkin, and one of the league's top goalies in Marc-Andre Fleury, they also have other crucial pieces to the puzzle. 

    Here are five players on the Penguins roster that don't always show up on the score sheet but have the ability to affect the flow and outcome of every game down the stretch. 

Ben Lovejoy

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    The Penguins have long been known for their defensive depth, and Ben Lovejoy is a perfect example. 

    Lovejoy has stepped in and played 32 games for the Penguins this season due to injuries to the top four defensemen and hasn't missed a beat.  He's a plus-two in those 32 games, and though he gets pieced in to the lineup almost every time he's called upon, he always plays solid in his own end.

Craig Adams

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    What team in the NHL would be complete without a guy like Craig Adams on their fourth line? 

    He's a gritty forward that blocks shots and plays on the penalty kill.  He knows how to throw his body around and isn't afraid to mix it up from time to time.

    I'm sure this guy wears with pride the black eye that's fast becoming his signature feature.

Arron Asham

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    Asham is known around the NHL for his fighting ability. 

    He's given the Penguins a ton of momentum this season with big fights and big hits. 

    He's also scored some big goals at key times for the Penguins, and even though he came from rival Philadelphia Flyers, he's turned into a Pittsburgh fan favorite.

Deryk Engelland

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    After floating around in the AHL for years, Engelland finally cracked the Penguins lineup and has built his reputation on big knockouts of big guys. 

    Now Engelland has cemented his place on the Penguins roster, and is one of the best stay-at-home defensemen in the league.

    Even though there's such a focus on offense from the blue line in the game today, there will always be room for defensemen like Engelland who know how to clear the crease and put people on their wallets.

Joe Vitale

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    I don't think enough can be said about this kid, and I think the Penguins organization would agree.

    Joe Vitale is the very image of hard work. 

    This kid can win big faceoffs, grind it out on the boards and crash the net for big goals.  Even though he's not the biggest guy, he plays with a big heart and gives it his all each and every night. 

    Vitale has played big minutes in the absence of Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal this year, and though the Penguins have their top-three centers healthy, Vitale will still get the nod centering the fourth line and playing big energy and penalty kill minutes.